California, United States

Santa Barbara is a city and metropolitan area less than 100 miles from Los Angeles but vastly different in pace from its huge neighbor to the south. With a temperate climate and lush natural environs, the "Riviera of the West" is a pleasant day or weekend trip from LA, with its wide beaches, highly rated wineries, and a large variety of shopping and dining choices, that enables the town of just 90,000 residents to enjoy the sort of cultural and social amenities which are usually found only in much larger cities.

Info Santa Barbara


Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County in the U.S. state of California. Situated on a south-facing section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States, the city lies between the steeply rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Santa Barbara's climate is often described as Mediterranean, and the city has been promoted as the "American Riviera". As of 2014, the city had an estimated population of 91,196, up from 88,410 in 2010, making it the second most populous city in the county after Santa Maria while the contiguous urban area, which includes the cities of Goleta and Carpinteria, along with the unincorporated regions of Isla Vista, Montecito, Mission Canyon,Hope Ranch, Summerland, and others, has an approximate population of 220,000. The population of the entire county in 2010 was 423,895.

In addition to being a popular tourist and resort destination, the city economy includes a large service sector, education, technology, health care, finance, agriculture, manufacturing, and local government. In 2004, the service sector accounted for fully 35% of local employment. Education in particular is well represented, with five institutions of higher learning on the south coast (the University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara City College, Westmont College, Antioch University, and the Brooks Institute of Photography). The Santa Barbara Airport serves the city, as does Amtrak. U.S. Highway 101connects the Santa Barbara area with Los Angeles to the southeast and San Francisco to the northwest. Behind the city, in and beyond the Santa Ynez Mountains, is the Los Padres National Forest, which contains several remote wilderness areas. Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary are located approximately 20 miles (32 km) offshore.

POPULATION : • Total 88,410
• Estimate (2014) 91,196
FOUNDED :   April 9, 1850
TIME ZONE : • Time zone Pacific Time Zone (UTC−8)
• Summer (DST) PDT (UTC−7)
LANGUAGE :  English
AREA : • Total 41.968 sq mi (108.697 km2)
• Land 19.468 sq mi (50.422 km2)
• Water 22.500 sq mi (58.275 km2) 53.61%
ELEVATION :   49 ft (15 m)
COORDINATES :  34°25′33″N 119°42′51″W
ETHNIC : White 75.1%
African American 1.6%
Asian 3.5%
American Indians and Alaska Natives 1.0%
Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders 0.1%
Two or more races 3.9%
Some Other Race 14.7%
AREA CODE :  805
POSTAL CODE : 93101–93103, 93105–93111, 93116–93118, 93120–93121, 93130, 93140, 93150, 93160, 93190, 93199
DIALING CODE :  +1 805


Santa Barbara is a city and metropolitan area less than 100 miles from Los Angeles but vastly different in pace from its huge neighbor to the south. With a temperate climate and lush natural environs, the "Riviera of the West" is a pleasant day or weekend trip from LA, with its wide beaches, highly rated wineries, and a large variety of shopping and dining choices, that enables the town of just 90,000 residents to enjoy the sort of cultural and social amenities which are usually found only in much larger cities.


Although the common perception of Santa Barbara is as a playground for the rich and famous, the reality is that the average income within city limits is only slightly higher than California as a whole. Notable for its California Mission-style architecture (a long-standing local ordinance ensures that all commercial construction follows the Mission theme, which results in a plethora of red-tiled roofs and faux adobe supermarkets), local residents are intensely proud of their city's roots and traditions, and a number of hugely popular festivals throughout the year celebrate the many cultures found in the city. In addition, the city's large Latino population, concentrated in the east side of the city around Milpas Street, means there are a great many tacquerias and Mexican food restaurants to be found. Santa Barbara has also been influenced by Los Angeles' food-truck scene.

Tourist attractions

Santa Barbara is a year-round tourist destination renowned for its fair weather, downtown beaches, and Spanish architecture. Tourism brings more than one billion dollars per year into the local economy, including $80 million in tax revenue. In addition to the city's cultural assets, several iconic destinations lie within the city's limits. Mission Santa Barbara, "The Queen of the Missions," is located on a rise about two miles (3 km) inland from the harbor, and is maintained as an active place of worship, sightseeing stop, and national historic landmark. The Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a red tiled Spanish-Moorish structure, provides a sweeping view of the downtown area from its open air tower. The Presidio of Santa Barbara, a Spanish military installation and chapel built in 1782, was central to the town's early development and remains an icon of the city's colonial roots. In 1855, the Presidio Chapel, being in decay, grew into the Apostolic College of Our Lady of Sorrows, now Our Lady of Sorrows Church. The present church, consecrated on the 147th anniversary of the founding of the presidio on April 21, 1929, remains one of the most beautiful churches in California.

Also famous is the annual Fiesta (originally called "Old Spanish Days"), which is celebrated every year in August. The Fiesta is hosted by the Native Daughters of the Golden West and the Native Sons of the Golden West in a joint committee called the Fiesta Board. Fiesta was originally started as a tourist attraction, like the Rose Bowl, to draw business into the town in the 1920s.

Flower Girls and Las Señoritas are another attraction of Fiesta, as they march and participate in both Fiesta Pequeña (the kickoff of Fiesta) and the various parades. Flower Girls is for girls under 13. They throw roses and other flowers into the crowds. Las Señoritas are their older escorts. Many Señoritas join the Native Daughters at the age of 16.

The annual Santa Barbara French Festival takes place Bastille Day weekend in July. This is the largest French Festival in the western United States.

New Noise Music Conference and Festival, established in 2009, is a 4-day event with the main party in the Funk Zone, a small art and wine tasting section of the city near the beach, and other small bands to local venues around the city. New Noise brings in over 75 bands and 50 speakers to the festival each year.

For over 40 years, the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show has been held on Cabrillo Blvd., east of Stearns Wharf and along the beach, attracting thousands of people to see artwork made by artists and crafts people that live in Santa Barbara county. By the rules of the show, all the works displayed must have been made by the artists and craftspeople themselves, who must sell their own goods. The show started in the early 1960s, and now has over 200 booths varying in size and style on any Sunday of the year. The show is also held on some Saturdays that are national holidays, but not during inclement weather.

In recent years, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, another local non-profit, has also become a major draw bringing over 50,000 attendees during what is usually Santa Barbara's slow season in late January. SBIFF hosts a wide variety of celebrities, premieres, panels and movies from around the world and runs for 10 days.

The annual Summer Solstice Parade draws up to 100,000 people. It is a colorful themed parade put on by local residents, and follows a route along State Street for approximately one mile, ending at Alameda Park. Its main rule is that no written messages or banners with words are allowed. Floats and costumes vary from the whimsical to the outrageous; parties and street events take place throughout the weekend of the parade, the first weekend after the solstice.

Surfing is as much a part of Santa Barbara culture as art. Bruce Brown's cult classic, The Endless Summer, put surfing on the map, and he is often seen around the town. Surfing legend Pat Curren and his son, three time world champion Tom Curren, as well as ten time world champion Kelly Slater, and other popular surf icons such as Jack Johnson call Santa Barbara home. Local surfers are known for going north to The Point, or south to Rincon.

Other tourist-centered attractions include:

  • Stearns Wharf – Adjacent to Santa Barbara Harbor, features shops, several restaurants, and the newly rebuilt Ty Warner Sea Center.
  • Rafael Gonzalez House – Adobe residence of the alcalde of Santa Barbara in the 1820s, and a National Historic Landmark.
  • Santa Barbara's Moreton Bay Fig Tree – a giant Moreton Bay Fig, 80 feet (24 m) tall, which has one of the largest total shaded areas of any tree in North America
  • Burton Mound – on Mason Street at Burton Circle, this mound is thought to be the Chumash village of Syujton, recorded by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in 1542, and again by Fr. Crespí and Portolá in 1769. (California Historical Landmark No. 306)
  • De La Guerra Plaza (Casa de la Guerra) – Site of the first City Hall, and still the center of the city's administration. (California Historical Landmark No. 307) Also the location of the Santa Barbara News Press.
  • Covarrubias Adobe – Built in 1817; adjacent to the Santa Barbara Historical Museum on Santa Barbara Street. (California Historical Landmark No. 308)
  • Hastings Adobe – Built in 1854, partially from material recovered from the wreck of the S.S. Winfield Scott. (California Historical Landmark No. 559)
  • Hill-Carrillo Adobe – Built in 1825 by Daniel A. Hill for his wife Rafaela L. Ortega y Olivera; currently at 11 E. Carrillo St.
  • Cold Spring Tavern
  • El Paseo Shopping Mall – California's first shopping center.
  • Santa Barbara Zoo
  • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
  • Channel Islands National Park

Visitors Center

Santa Barbara Visitors Center1 Garden Street, downtown,  +1 805-965-3021. 9AM (10AM on Su) - 5PM (4PM Nov-Jan). Has information about Santa Barbara, including maps, pricing and hours of attractions, restaurant guides, bus and waterfront shuttle schedules.


Evidence of human habitation of the area begins at least 13,000 years ago. Evidence for a Paleoindian presence includes a fluted Clovis-like point found in the 1980s along the western Santa Barbara County coast, as well as the remains of Arlington Springs Man, found on Santa Rosa Island in the 1960s. An estimated 8,000 to 10,000 Chumash lived on the south coast of Santa Barbara County at the time of the first European explorations.

Five Chumash villages flourished in the area. The present-day area of Santa Barbara City College was the village of Mispu; the site of the El Baño pool (along west beach, was the village of Syukhtun, chief Yanonalit’s large village located between Bath and Chapala streets; Amolomol was at the mouth of Mission Creek; and Swetete, above the bird refuge.

Spanish period

Portuguese explorer João Cabrilho(Spanish: Cabrillo), sailing for the Kingdom of Spain, sailed through what is now called the Santa Barbara Channel in 1542, anchoring briefly in the area. In 1602, Spanish maritime explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno gave the name "Santa Barbara" to the channel and also to one of the Channel Islands.

A land expedition led by Gaspar de Portolàvisited in 1769, and Franciscan missionaryJuan Crespi, who accompanied the expedition, named a large native town "Laguna de la Concepcion". Cabrillo's earlier name, however, is the one that has survived.

The first permanent European residents were Spanish missionaries and soldiers under Felipe de Neve, who came in 1782 to build the Presidio. They were sent both to fortify the region against expansion by other powers such as England and Russia, and to convert the natives to Christianity. Many of the Spaniards brought their families with them, and those formed the nucleus of the small town – at first just a cluster of adobes – that surrounded the Presidio. The Santa Barbara Mission was established on the Feast of Saint Barbara, December 4, 1786. It was the tenth of the California Missions to be founded by the Spanish Franciscans. It was dedicated by Padre Fermín Lasuén, who succeeded Padre Junipero Serra as the second president and founder of the California Franciscan Mission Chain. The Mission fathers began the slow work of converting the native Chumash to Christianity, building a village for them on the Mission grounds. The Chumash laborers built a connection between the canyon creek and the Santa Barbara Mission water system through the use of a dam and an aqueduct.During the following decades, many of the natives died of diseases such as smallpox, against which they had no natural immunity.

The most dramatic event of the Spanish period was the powerful 1812 earthquake, and tsunami, with an estimated magnitude of 7.1, which destroyed the Mission as well as the rest of the town; water reached as high as present-day Anapamu street, and carried a ship half a mile up Refugio Canyon.The Mission was rebuilt by 1820 after the earthquake Following the earthquake, the Mission fathers chose to rebuild in a grander manner, and it is this construction that survives to the present day, the best-preserved of the California Missions.

The Spanish period ended in 1822 with the end of the Mexican War of Independence, which terminated 300 years of colonial rule. The flag of Mexico went up the flagpole at the Presidio, but only for 24 years.

Santa Barbara street names reflect this time period as well. The names de le Guerra and Carrillo come from citizens of the town of this time. They help to build up the town so they were honored by naming not only streets after them, but the dining commons at UCSB are also named after them.

Mexican and Rancho period

After the forced secularization of the Missions in 1833, successive Mexican Governors distributed the large land tracts formerly held by the Franciscan Order to various families in order to reward service or build alliances. These land grants to local notable families mark the beginning of the "Rancho Period" in California and Santa Barbara history. The population remained sparse, with enormous cattle operations run by wealthy families. It was during this period that Richard Henry Dana, Jr. first visited Santa Barbara and wrote about the culture and people of Santa Barbara in his book Two Years Before the Mast.

Santa Barbara fell bloodlessly to a battalion of American soldiers under John C. Frémont on December 27, 1846, during the Mexican–American War, and after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 it became part of the expanding United States.

Middle and late 19th century

Change came quickly after Santa Barbara's acquisition by the United States. The population doubled between 1850 and 1860. In 1851, land surveyor Salisbury Haley designed the street grid, famously botching the block measurements, misaligning the streets, thereby creating doglegs at certain intersections. Wood construction replaced adobe as American settlers moved in; during the Gold Rush years and following, the town became a haven for bandits and gamblers, and a dangerous and lawless place. Charismatic gambler and highwayman Jack Powers had virtual control of the town in the early 1850s, until driven out by a posse organized in San Luis Obispo. English gradually supplanted Spanish as the language of daily life, becoming the language of official record in 1870.  The first newspaper, the Santa Barbara Gazette, was founded in 1855.

While the Civil War had little effect on Santa Barbara, the disastrous drought of 1863 ended the Rancho Period, as most of the cattle died and ranchos were broken up and sold. Mortimer Cook, a wealthy entrepreneur, arrived in 1871 and opened the city's first bank. Cook later served two terms as mayor. Cook founded the first National Gold Bank of Santa Barbara in 1873. The building of Stearns Wharf in 1872 enhanced Santa Barbara's commercial and tourist accessibility; previously goods and visitors had to transfer from steamboats to smaller craft to row ashore. During the 1870s, writer Charles Nordhoff promoted the town as a health resort and destination for well-to-do travelers from other parts of the U.S.; many of them came, and many stayed. The luxurious Arlington Hotel dated from this period. In 1887 the railroad finally went through to Los Angeles, and in 1901 to San Francisco: Santa Barbara was now easily accessible by land and by sea, and subsequent development was brisk.

Peter J. Barber, an architect, designed many Late Victorian style residences, and served twice as mayor, in 1880 and again in 1890. A year after Barber's term as mayor, President Benjamin Harrison became the first of five presidents to visit Santa Barbara.

Early 20th century to World War II

Just before the turn of the 20th century, oil was discovered at the Summerland Oil Field, and the region along the beach east of Santa Barbara sprouted numerous oil derricks and piers for drilling offshore. This was the first offshore oil development in the world; oil drilling offshore would become a contentious practice in the Santa Barbara area, which continues to the present day.

Santa Barbara housed the world's largest movie studio during the era of silent film. Flying A Studios, a division of the American Film Manufacturing Company, operated on two city blocks centered at State and Mission between 1910 and 1922, with the industry shutting down locally and moving to Hollywood once it outgrew the area, needing the resources of a larger city. Flying A and the other smaller local studios produced approximately 1,200 films during their tenure in Santa Barbara, of which approximately 100 survive.

During this period, the Loughead Aircraft Company was established on lower State Street, and regularly tested seaplanes off of East Beach. This was the genesis of what would later become Lockheed.

The magnitude 6.3 earthquake of June 29, 1925, was the first destructive earthquake in California since the 1906 San Francisco quake, destroyed much of downtown Santa Barbara and killed 13 people. The earthquake caused infrastructure to collapse including the Sheffield Dam. The low death toll is attributed to the early hour (6:44 a.m., before most people were out on the streets, vulnerable to falling masonry). While this quake, like the one in 1812, was centered in the Santa Barbara Channel, it caused no tsunami. It came at an opportune time for rebuilding, since a movement for architectural reform and unification around a Spanish Colonial style was already underway. Under the leadership of Pearl Chase, many of the city's famous buildings rose as part of the rebuilding process, including the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, sometimes praised as the "most beautiful public building in the United States." There is also the unfortunate incident that happened in 1907, which included a horrific train accident that took the lives of 32 people.

During World War II, Santa Barbara was home to Marine Corps Air Station Santa Barbara, and Naval Reserve Center Santa Barbara at the harbor. Up the coast, west of the city, was the Army's Camp Cooke (the present-day Vandenberg Air Force Base). In the city, Hoff General Hospital treated servicemen wounded in the Pacific Theatre. On February 23, 1942, not long after the outbreak of war in the Pacific, the Japanese submarine I-17 surfaced offshore and lobbed 16 shells at the Ellwood Oil Field, about 10 miles (16 km) west of Santa Barbara, in the first wartime attack by an enemy power on the U.S. mainland since the War of 1812. Although the shelling was inaccurate and only caused about $500 damage to a catwalk, panic was immediate. Many Santa Barbara residents fled, and land values plummeted to historic lows.

After World War II

After the war many of the servicemen who had seen Santa Barbara returned to stay. The population surged by 10,000 people between the end of the war and 1950. This burst of growth had dramatic consequences for the local economy and infrastructure. Highway 101 was built through town during this period, and newly built Lake Cachuma began supplying water via a tunnel dug through the mountains between 1950 and 1956.

Local relations with the oil industry gradually soured through the period. Production at Summerland had ended, Elwood was winding down, and to find new fields oil companies carried out seismic exploration of the Channel using explosives, a controversial practice that local fishermen claimed harmed their catch. The culminating disaster, and one of the formative events in the modern environmental movement, was the blowout at Union Oil's Platform A on the Dos Cuadras Field, about eight miles (13 km) southeast of Santa Barbara in the Santa Barbara Channel, on January 28, 1969. Approximately 100,000 barrels (16,000 m3) of oil surged out of a huge undersea break, fouling hundreds of square miles of ocean and all the coastline from Ventura to Goleta, as well north facing beaches on the Channel Islands. Two legislative consequences of the spill in the next year were the passages of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); locally, outraged citizens formed GOO (Get Oil Out). Santa Barbara's business community strove to attract development until the surge in the anti-growth movement in the 1970s. Many "clean" industries, especially aerospace firms such as Raytheon and Delco Electronics, moved to town in the 1950s and 1960s, bringing employees from other parts of the U.S. UCSB itself became a major employer. In 1975, the city passed an ordinance restricting growth to a maximum of 85,000 residents, through zoning. Growth in the adjacent Goleta Valley could be shut down by denying water meters to developers seeking permits. As a result of these changes, growth slowed down, but prices rose sharply.

When voters approved connection to State water supplies in 1991, parts of the city, especially outlying areas, resumed growth, but more slowly than during the boom period of the 1950s and 1960s. While the slower growth preserved the quality of life for most residents and prevented the urban sprawl notorious in the Los Angeles basin, housing in the Santa Barbara area was in short supply, and prices soared: in 2006, only six percent of residents could afford a median-value house. As a result, many people who work in Santa Barbara commute from adjacent, more affordable areas, such as Santa Maria, Lompoc, and Ventura. The resultant traffic on incoming arteries, in particular the stretch of Highway 101 between Ventura and Santa Barbara, is another problem being addressed by long-range planners.

Notable wildfires

Since the middle of the twentieth century, several destructive fires affected Santa Barbara: the 1964 Coyote Fire, which burned 67,000 acres (270 km2) of backcountry along with 106 homes; the smaller, but quickly moving, Sycamore Fire in 1977, which burned 200 homes; the disastrous 1990 Painted Cave Fire, which incinerated over 500 homes in only several hours, during an intense Sundowner wind event; the November 2008 Tea Fire, which destroyed 210 homes in the foothills of Santa Barbara and Montecito; and the 2009 Jesusita Fire that burned 8,733 acres (35.34 km2) and destroyed 160 homes above the San Roque region of Santa Barbara.


Santa Barbara experiences a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csb) characteristic of coastal California. Because the city lies along the ocean, onshore breezes moderate temperatures resulting in warmer winters and cooler summers compared with places farther inland. In the winter, storms reach California, some of which bring heavy rainfall. Local rainfall totals can be enhanced by orographic lif twhen storms are accompanied by southerly flow pushing moist air over the Santa Ynez mountains, producing greater rainfall than in other coastal areas. Summers in Southern California are mostly rainless due to the presence of a high-pressure area over the eastern Pacific. In the fall, downslope winds, locally called "Sundowners", can raise temperatures into the high 90s and drop humidities into the single digits, increasing the chance and severity of wildfires in the foothills north of the city. Annual rainfall totals are highly variable and in exceptional years like 1940–1941 and 1997–1998 over 40 inches (1.0 m) of rain has fallen in a year, but in dry seasons less than 6 inches (150 mm) is not unheard of. Snow sometimes covers higher elevations of the Santa Ynez Mountains but is extremely rare in the city itself. The most recent accumulating snow to fall near sea level was in January 1949, when approximately two inches fell in the city.

Climate data for Santa Barbara, California

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 89
Average high °F (°C) 64.7
Average low °F (°C) 46.4
Record low °F (°C) 20
Source: Western Regional Climate Center


Santa Barbara is located about 90 miles (145 km) WNW of Los Angeles, along the Pacific coast. This stretch of coast along southern Santa Barbara County is sometimes referred to as "The American Riviera", presumably because its geography and climate are similar to that of areas along the northern Mediterranean Sea coast (especially in southern France) known as the Riviera. The Santa Ynez Mountains, an east–west trending range, rise dramatically behind the city, with several peaks exceeding 4,000 feet (1,200 m). Covered with chaparral and sandstone outcrops, they make a scenic backdrop to the town. Sometimes, perhaps once every three years, snow falls on the mountains, but it rarely stays for more than a few days. Nearer to town, directly east and adjacent to Mission Santa Barbara, is an east-west ridge known locally as "the Riviera," traversed by a road called "Alameda Padre Serra" (shortened APS, which translates to "Father Serra's pathway").

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 42.0 square miles (108.8 km2), of which 19.5 square miles (51 km2) of it is land and 22.5 square miles (58 km2) of it (53.61%) is water. The high official figures for water is due to the extension of the city limit into the ocean, including a strip of city reaching out into the sea and inland again to keep the Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) within the city boundary.


Aerospace and defense companies form the basis of the city's private employment as Alliant Techsystems, Channel Technologies Group, Citrix Online, FLIR Systems, and Raytheon have major operations in the area. Santa Barbara's tourist attractions have made the hospitality industry into a major player in the regional economy. Motel 6 was started in Santa Barbara in 1962.


Santa Barbara has a range of neighborhoods with distinctive histories, architectures, and cultures. While considerable consensus exists as to the identification of neighborhood names and boundaries, variations exist between observers. For example, real estate agents may use different names than those used by public utilities or municipal service providers, such as police, fire, or water services. 

  • The Mesa stretches 2.5 miles (4.0 km) from Santa Barbara City College on the east to Arroyo Burro County Beach (or "Hendry's/The Pit" to locals) on the west. "The Mesa" embodies a beach vibe. The neighborhood has beach access to Mesa Lane Beach, as well as Thousand Steps Beach. This is considered to be a desirable neighborhood due to its proximity to the ocean as well as the college. Residential development began here in the 1920s, but was interrupted by the discovery of the Mesa Oil Field. The field was quickly exhausted, and after the Second World War building of houses resumed, although the last oil tanks and sumps did not disappear until the early 1970s.

  • Mission Canyon contains the wooded hilly area beginning at the Old Mission and extending along Foothill Road, north and east into Mission Canyon Road and Las Canoas Road. A popular spot as an entry-point for weekend foothill hiking, it is one of the most rustically beautiful, yet fire-prone areas of Santa Barbara due to heavy natural vegetation.

  • The Riviera encompasses an ocean-facing hillside and back hillside extending for approximately two miles, with the north side extending from Foothill Road to Sycamore Canyon Road, and the south side from the Santa Barbara Mission to North Salinas Street. The ribbon-like Alameda Padre Serra serves as the principal entry point from the Mission and the City of Santa Barbara. Since the past century, it has been known as "the Riviera" due to its resemblance to the Mediterranean coastal towns of France and Italy. The neighborhood has winding streets with intricate stone work terracing built by early 20th-century Italian immigrants. Most of the topography of the Riviera is relatively steep, making it particularly noteworthy for homes with outstanding views of the City of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean.

  • The Westside ("west of State Street") lies predominantly in the lowlands between State Street and the Mesa, including Highway 101, and also reaches down to Cliff Drive, incorporating Santa Barbara City College.

  • The Eastside ("east of State Street") is generally the area east of State to the base of the Riviera, and includes Santa Barbara Junior High School, Santa Barbara High School, and the Santa Barbara Bowl.

  • The Waterfront comprises roughly commercial and tourist-oriented business structures along Cabrillo Blvd including Stearns Wharf, the Santa Barbara Harbor and the breakwater, and extending East toward the Bird Refuge and West along Shoreline Drive above the SBCC campus West.

  • Lower State Street, also known as the Funk Zone, is along with the Waterfront and popular with tourists. Centered on the intersection of Yanonali and Anacapa streets, the zone radiates out from here, covering the 10- to 12-block area between State and Garden squeezed between the waterfront and Highway 101. The area features commercial properties with a thriving nightlife. The area also serves as the main location for local celebrations and parades such as Old Spanish Days Fiesta.

  • Upper State Street is a residential and commercial district that includes numerous professional offices, and much of the medical infrastructure of the city.

  • San Roque is located northwest of the downtown area and north of Samarkand. This area is said to be a constant 5 degrees warmer than the coastal areas, due to its greater distance from the ocean than other Santa Barbara neighborhoods, and being separated from the sea by a low range of hills to the south, occupied by the Mesa and Hope Ranch. San Roque is also the most popular spot for Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween.

  • Samarkand currently has approximately 630 homes on 184 acres (0.74 km2) with a population of about 2000 people. The name Samarkand comes from an Old Persian word meaning "the land of heart's desire." It was first applied to a deluxe Persian-style hotel that was converted from a boy’s school in 1920. Samarkand later became identified as its own neighborhood located between Las Positas, State Street, De La Vina, Oak Park and the Freeway. Earle Ovington built the first home here in 1920 at 3030 Samarkand Drive. As a pilot, Ovington established the Casa Loma Air Field with a 1,500-foot (460 m) runway that was used by legendary pilots, Lindbergh and Earheart.

Prices in Santa Barbara



Milk 1 liter $1.25
Tomatoes 1 kg $4.40
Cheese 0.5 kg $7.50
Apples 1 kg $4.40
Oranges 1 kg $2.20
Beer (domestic) 0.5 l $1.70
Bottle of Wine 1 bottle $15.00
Coca-Cola 2 liters $2.18
Bread 1 piece $2.40
Water 1.5 l $2.05



Dinner (Low-range) for 2 $32.00
Dinner (Mid-range) for 2 $61.00
Dinner (High-range) for 2 $
Mac Meal or similar 1 meal $7.80
Water 0.33 l $1.55
Cappuccino 1 cup $4.35
Beer (Imported) 0.33 l $7.00
Beer (domestic) 0.5 l $6.00
Coca-Cola 0.33 l $1.95
Coctail drink 1 drink $13.00



Cinema 2 tickets $26.00
Gym 1 month $60.00
Men’s Haircut 1 haircut $22.00
Theatar 2 tickets $
Mobile (prepaid) 1 min. $0.08
Pack of Marlboro 1 pack $7.00



Antibiotics 1 pack $20.00
Tampons 32 pieces $9.00
Deodorant 50 ml. $4.50
Shampoo 400 ml. $5.80
Toilet paper 4 rolls $
Toothpaste 1 tube $



Jeans (Levis 501 or similar) 1 $54.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M) 1 $48.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas) 1 $90.00
Leather shoes 1 $105.00



Gasoline 1 liter $0.83
Taxi Start $2.10
Taxi 1 km $
Local Transport 1 ticket $1.75

Tourist (Backpacker)  

103 $ per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • meals in cheap restaurant
  • public transport
  • cheap hotel

Tourist (business/regular)  

345 $ per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • mid-range meals and drinks
  • transportation
  • hotel

Transportation - Get In

Transportation - Get In

By plane

Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (IATA:SBA), located in Santa Barbara, near the neighboring town of Goleta, provides access to LAX through a shuttle service that flies between the two airports several times per day. There is also service to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver and other destinations. Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District's Route 11 bus links the airport with downtown Santa Barbara.

The airport can be pricey, and flight schedules limited; flying to Los Angeles (LAX) or Burbank (BUR) and driving the 100 miles to Santa Barbara may come out ahead on price, time, or both.

Transportation - Get In

By Train

Amtrak, housed in a historical landmark on lower State Street, provides service on both the Pacific Surfliner (San Luis Obispo toSan Diego) and Coast Starlight (Seattle toLos Angeles). The ride is beautiful on its legs that are near the coast, but don't expect on-time service. If you take the train from Oakland and it's only one hour late, consider yourself lucky.

Transportation - Get In

By Bus

The Greyhound station is downtown, at 224 Chapala, near the Amtrak station. The Santa Barbara Airbus operates several times per day between Goleta, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and LAX.

Transportation - Get In

By Car

There is only one major highway in and out of Santa Barbara: US 101, which is coterminous with Highway 1 for over 30 miles both north and south (well, east, but down the coast) of the city. From the 101, downtown Santa Barbara can be accessed via the Garden St. exit, while the beaches can be found off the Cabrillo Blvd. off ramp. Traffic patterns are the opposite from the famous Los Angeles grid lock, as the 101 can come to a grinding halt on Sunday afternoons.

State Route 154 is a secondary road that leads into the hills and eventually to Los Olivos and is accurately designated a "Scenic Highway" by the California Department of Transportation. However, it's probably less of a way to get into town and more of a road to take on a day trip from Santa Barbara.

Transportation - Get Around

The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (SBMTD) runs buses all over Santa Barbara proper, and neighboring Goleta and Montecito. Routes and fares are on their website.

The SBMTD also runs shuttle bus services along State St between downtown Sola St and the waterfront, and along the waterfront, leaving every 15 or 30 minutes between 9AM and 6PM (till 10PM F-Sa in summer). Fare is 25 to 50 cents; get a free shuttle transfer to switch between the two shuttles.

Taxis are extremely expensive.

Along the waterfront, many businesses offer bicycle or inline skate rentals for exploring the beach areas, and "rickshaw" taxis are also common.

Budget and Hertz car rental outlets are present at the airport terminal, and several other rental agencies are located in Santa Barbara.





Beaches in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara beaches are where you can get a tan and, at the same time, have some fun.

Hendry's Beach

Only ten minutes away from town, this beach is in a quiet area surrounded by cliffs. For those who love surfing, this is the place to be. Facilities on the beach are plenty as you can enjoy a meal at the restaurant or get some snacks and drinks at the stands. They also have changing rooms and showers on the beach. You don't have to pay for parking. They have also provided a place for picnics. As you relax on the beach you can watch people on gliders above you.

Butterfly Beach

Among the famous of Santa Barbara beaches, you can be sure to see some celebrity faces there. This beach is very clean and the scenery is very beautiful. Make sure you carry all your accessories, food and drinks as no restaurants are located here. If it is on a weekend, make sure you get there early enough as the parking lot may be full later in the day.

Carpinteria Beaches

This beach is like no other as it stretches for miles. Here you can really enjoy surfing, camping, sunbathing or swimming. There's also plenty of things for kids to do. Play a game of beach volleyball or go for a ride on the rental bikes available. Roller blades can also be hired.  As this beach is very close to Linden, getting something to eat or drink is not a problem. You can also decide to carry a picnic basket. For bird lovers, carry binoculars so that you may see some birds. Parking is not a problem on this beach.

East Beach

It is also another of Santa Barbara beaches where any visitor will really have a good time. The beach is surrounded by tall trees and a nice park. It is equipped with a playground for kids, beach volleyball, an area where you can ride your bicycle or do some roller skating. There are shows during weekend afternoons. Most of the famous hotels are found here, so this beach is very popular. To get a good parking, make sure you get there early enough.

El Capitan Beach

For those who prefer a quiet beach with lots of sand, this is the place to go to. As it is part of a park, the natural habitat is intact with lots of trees and vegetation. They charge a fee of $5 to use this beach. Here you can go for a swim, get a tan, play some beach volleyball, or just take a stroll. Facilities include a picnic area with grill, restrooms, and a shop where you can buy suntan oil or mineral water.


Santa Barbara is a shopping paradise. State Street alone offers more than a mile stretch of everything from trendy boutiques to popular chain stores like Restoration Hardware. El Paseo (812 State St., downtown) is an upscale mall that bills itself as "California's First Shopping Center," while lushly themed and nearby Paseo Nuevo (651 Paseo Nuevo) offers Nordstrom's, Macy's, and more than 50 specialty shops. Whatever you're looking for, you'll likely find it on State Street. There is plenty of parking downtown with the first 75 minutes free in most lots (except at the beach). A good bet is the parking structure on Ortega.

  • Channel Island Surfboards36 Anacapa St,  +1 805 966-7213. The retail shop has a big choice of wet suits and surf boards.
  • Cranky's Bikes1014 State St,  +1 805 963-7433. M-Sa 12-7PM, Su 2-6PM.They do repairs and sell bikes. Knowledgeable staff.
  • Farmers marketCota Street and Santa Barbara St. Sa 08:30-13:00. The market sells local eggs, fresh fruits, vegetables, oils and much more also from organic producers. There is also a Tuesday evening market on State Street, and markets on other days in other nearby towns.
    • Fusano Olives, e-mail: . This local olive oil mill sells from their own grounds smoked olives, delicious tapenades, olive oil and other olive based products. $8 per tapenade glass.
    • Mama's Preserves (2 Peas in a Pod), e-mail: .This stand sells extraordinary homemade jams and marmalade. Mama recommends the sweet and spice Jalapeño along with cheese. The nectarine, blueberry are delicious too. One is always welcomed to taste on their stand. Their fresh berries are excellent too and vary in taste according to season. $8 per Jam/Marmalade.
  • Hazard's Cyclesport110 Anacapa St+1 805 966-3787, e-mail:. M-F 10AM-6PM Sa 10AM-5PM Su 12Noon-5PM.The bicycle shop has been around since 1914, they sell bikes, do service (not snobby) and charge reasonable prices. They also have a running store in their bike shop.
  • The Italian Pottery Outlet929 State St, toll-free: +1-877-496-5599. A family owned business, it has been in this location for more than 15 years. It carries the largest collection of Italian pottery in the west and at discounted prices.
  • Mountain Air Sports14 State St+1 805 962-0049, e-mail:. Mo-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 11AM-5PM. This outdoor shop sells good for camping, kayak, rock climbing, skiing and many other activities. They have a great selection on site.


Santa Barbara does French-inspired California cuisine quite well. Locally sourced food is a point of pride for many chefs, who are able to draw from the bounty of fresh produce grown within a few hundreds miles of the city, as well as the fresh seafood that's pulled in from the ocean daily. The town's elevated cultural status attracts high-powered chefs from all over the world, and the selection and sheer variety of local fare is quite astonishing for a community of 90,000.

In addition, Santa Barbara's Mexican food ranks with any other town in California and the food truck scene born in L.A. has emerged in the city as well. Here are just a few of Santa Barbara's culinary choices:


  • Cajun Kitchen901 Chapala St,+1 805 965-1004. Mon–Sat 6:30AM–3PM, Sun 7AM–3PM. Very popular breakfast and lunch place. The best breakfast in town. Delicious sausages. Good price. Another location at 1924-A De la Vina St.
  • The Habit628 State St+1 805 892-5400. Mon–Sat 10:30AM–9PM, Sun 11AM–8PM. Stop by for a cheap, charbroiled sidewalk burger at this regional chain, which has roots in Santa Barbara. Also 216 S. Milpas St. (+1 962 7472)
  • Los Arroyos14 W. Figueroa St (Off State street),+1 805 962-5541. The restaurant serves popular and very good Mexican food.
  • The Natural Café and juice bar508 State St+1 805 962-9494, e-mail:. Mon-Sun 11AM-9PM. Outdoor, sidewalk dining that is healthy and good. If there is a vegan/vegetarian in the group, they will be happy here. Part of a small regional chain.
  • On The Alley117 Harbor Way,  +1 805 962-6315. Su-Th 6:30AM-6PM, F Sa 6:30AM-7PM. Burgers, seafood, and other simple but tasty meals right at the harbor. You can take your food around the corner to sit on the beach or the sea wall and enjoy the ocean view while you eat.
  • Panino834 Santa Barbara St,  +1 805 963-3700. Good variety of sandwiches, part of a local chain.
  • Romanti-Ezer701 Chapala St,  +1 805 730-1612. M–W 9AM–8PM, Th–Sa 9AM–3AM, Su 9AM–9PM. "Weird Name - Delicious Food" [sic] A great walk-up Mexican restaurant with outdoor and limited indoor seating, in-the-know locals look for options with the mole sauce.
  • Rudy's Restaurant305 W. Montecito St, +1 805 899-3152. Mon–Sat 8AM–10PM, Sun 8AM–9PM. Very good tamales, chimichangas and burritos. Charming family-owned business. A total of six locations.
  • La Super-Rica Taqueria622 N. Milpas St+1 805 963-4940. Mon 11am–9pm, Tue–Wed closed, Thu 11am–9pm, Fri–Sat 11am–9:30pm, Sun 11am–9pm.Once tabbed "Best Mexican Food in the Country" by the New York Times. You won't come here for the atmosphere. There is no sign on the building, and seating is first come-first served, but you'll be happy you stood in the long line forming outside the door once you taste what's served up here. Julia Child is said to have named this her favorite Mexican restaurant, but other, recent reviews call it pleasant but not extraordinary. Cash only. After you order, keep the tab with your order, and wait in the dining area for your number to be called. $5–$15.
  • Super Cuca's Restaurant (Cliff Dr)2030 Cliff Dr (In the shopping centre with the big Rite Aid, all the way to the left under the arcade),   +1 805 966-3863.Mon–Sun 6AM-8PM. Big burritos, vegetarian recommended even for those die-hard carnivores. Two locations. $8 for a large burrito.
  • Super Cuca's Restaurant (Micheltorena St)626 W. Micheltorena St.,  +1 805 966-3863. Mon–Sun 6AM-8PM. Big burritos, vegetarian recommended even for those die-hard carnivores. Two locations. $8 for a large burrito.
  • Woody's BBQ, 5112 Hollister Ave+1 805 967-3775. Serving delicious BBQ in Santa Barbara for 19 years and voted Santa Barbara's Favorite BBQ For 19 Years In A Row!


  • Arigato Sushi1225 State St+1 805 965-6074. M-Th 11:00-22:30, Fr, Sa 11:00-23:00, Su 11:00-22:30. Unbelievably good sushi. Just keep in mind that they don't take reservations and are usually packed Thursday through Saturday nights with people queuing up. While they serve also US style sushi combinations like grilled stuff and with funny sauces on top, they have a great choice of traditional sushis and rolls with for example mackerel, salmon, tuna or yellowtail. The choices of sake are excellent. $7 tuna roll, $6 2pieces Salmon.
  • Boathouse at Hendry's Beach2981 Cliff Dr+1 805-898-2628, e-mail:. M-F 7:30-11:30, M-S 14:00-24:00. The restaurant serves local seafood. One can either have a breakfast, brunch or dinner. For the happy hour selection there is a designated outdoor seating area. Its choices include cheeseburger, tuna and black mussels plus local wine choices.
  • Brophy Bros, 119 Harbor Way,  +1 805 966-4418. 11:00-22:00. Breakwater at the Harbor, great seafood, known for clam chowder, the setting cannot be beat.
  • Cold Spring Tavern5995 Stagecoach Rd (Take the 101 North. Get off on the 154 North exit. Drive about 9 miles on 154, until you see a street sign on your left for Stagecoach Road and turn left. If you miss that turnoff and see Paradise Road on your right, you can turn right on Paradise Road and then turn right when it intersects with Stagecoach Road),  +1 805 967-0066. Located off of Highway 154 near wine country (from downtown Santa Barbara, the trip is approximately 15 miles, and may last as long as 30 minutes or so), this historic rustic tavern, restaurant and coach stop is a touch of Old West and a world away from the glitz of lower State Street. Stop for lunch at this family-friendly historic tavern and restaurant that's also popular with the weekend biker crowd. The place serves up some of the best tri-tip sandwiches on Sundays, when outdoor live music from local bands usually on tap as well. Great location and great food. It also offers a fun atmosphere on weekend nights with live music. Dinner is more expensive, in the $17–29 range.
  • Chuck's of Hawaii3888 State St+1 805 564-1200. The watergrill is found on113 Harbor Way, A great cut of beef. Try anything with artichokes.
  • Los Agaves600 N Milpas St+1 805 564-2626. Los Agaves is one of the favorites of Milpas and often earns the coveted Best Of Santa Barbara award from the Santa Barbara Independent in the Mexican food category. Many of the dishes are seafood-centric, and the seafood enchiladas are a regular favorite. The restaurant was so popular in its Milpas Street location that it opened a second location in Santa Barbara in 2013. The new location is located on upper De La Vina St, in the Mid-Town District.
  • Opal Restaurant1325 State St,  +1 805 966-9676. A great example of typical mid-range Santa Barbara cuisine, with an innovative, California-French menu and lovely atmosphere. The salmon with thai curry sauce is a good bet.
  • The Palace Grill8 E. Cota St,+1 805 963-5000. This place celebrates the cuisine of New Orleans. It has a fun, yet laid back atmosphere with great service. Try the Caribbean coconut shrimp.
  • Palazzio1026 State St,  +1 805 564-1985. Extremely generous portions of pastas and salads. One entree and a half salad is enough to feed up to three people. Every fifteen minutes waiters walk around with freshly baked garlic rolls that are to die for.
  • Pascucci, 729 State St,  +1 805 963-8123. Santa Barbara's best affordable Italian food from local producers. Often a local band plays during dinner.
  • Restaurant Roy7 West Carillo St,  +1 805 966-5636. Good "off State St." bar. Serves great food late at night, focus on local ingredients. Price fix menu with everything at around $25.


  • Wine Cask813 Anacapa St,  +1 805 966-9463, e-mail:. Tu-F 11:30AM-2:00, 5:30–9PM. As the name implies, Wine Cask has an extensive wine list, much of it drawn from co-owned and neighboring Margerum Wine Co. The French-inspired menu is quite pricey, and the restaurant is a favorite among the city's movers and shakers. It is located in the gorgeous El Paseo building, one of the city's earliest Spanish Colonial Revival structures. If you're looking for a cheaper taste of the menu and a more casual atmosphere, try Intermezzo Bar + Café, the bar area off to the side. They offer delicious, fresh-baked flatbreads.

Coffe & Drink


There are several good places to relax in Santa Barbara:

  • The Andersen's1106 State St+1 805 962-5085. Very perfect café and pasteries, the place is ideal for breakfast. On the happy hour they serve wine for special prices. It established itself in 1976 and expanded since. One can dine here too. Many people stop by for pastries on the go.
  • D'Angelo Bakery25 W Gutierrez St+1 805 962-5466. Great place to start the day with a breakfast. It offers poached eggs, delicious omelets all accompagned with their bread or home made pastries.
  • Coffee Cat1201 Anacapa St+1 805 962-7164. 6AM-7PM. The coffee is an idea place to meet or study. $$.
  • The French Press1101 State St+1 805 963-2721. M-F 6AM-7PM, Sa 7AM-7PM, Su 8AM-7PM pm. The café serves fine espressos, chocolate chai's, various leaf teas and also fine pastries. One can buy great coffee beans.
  • Handlebar Coffee Roasters128 E. Canon Perdido St., e-mail:. M-Sa 7AM–5PM, Su 8AM–1PM. The Handlebar is owned by two former pro-cyclist. They bring that same focus and dedication to detail to in-house roasting, espressos, brewed coffees, teas and their selection of baked goods from local bakers. You'll find baristas and extremely friendly stuff doing excellent coffee together with fine croissants.
  • Savoy Cafe & Deli, 24 West Figueroa St,  +1 805-962-6611. M-Sa 7:30AM-8PM, Sunday 7:30AM-5PM. Good breakfast with large selection of leaf teas. Serves great sandwiches to go.


The local ice creams or blenders are great for the go or to relax on one of the state street benches.

  • Blenders In the Grass, 720 State St,  +1 805 962-5715. M-F 7AM–8PM, Sa Su 8AM–8PM. The juice shop sells pressed fruity juices with several possible supplements for the go. The local chain has 12 shops in and around Santa Barbara.
  • McConnell's Fine Ice Creams728 State St+1 805 324-4402. Selling handcrafted local ice creams from Santa Barbara since 1949.

Sights & Landmarks

  • Santa Barbara County Courthouse, 1100 Anacapa St. M-F 8AM-5PM, Sa-Su 10AM-4:30PM, Guided tours, M-Sa 2PM and M, Tu, F 10:30AM. Built in 1929 and the grandest building in the town. A working courthouse, this Spanish-Moorish castle has frescoes, murals and Tunisian tilework. The El Mirador Bell Tower provides great views of the city and the bay. The grounds contain a collection of palms and specimen trees from more than 25 countries, and a printed guide to the plants is available. Free, but donation suggested.
  • Santa Barbara Mission2201 Laguna St(from downtown State St., turn east onto Mission St. and follow signs pointing toward the Mission; public transit: SBMTD bus #6 or #11 to State & Mission Sts.), +1 805 682-4149. Self-guided tours daily 9AM-4:30PM.Known as "The Queen of the Missions," Santa Barbara's "Old Mission" is a superb example of California's Franciscan Spanish architecture. The tenth California Mission to be constructed, it was consecrated in 1786 as the first of Father Lasuen's nine missions. Today, Mission Santa Barbara is both a scenic wonder and a fine anthropological study of original native culture in the surrounding area. Santa Barbara is the only California mission with twin bell towers, owing to its status as a cathedral in the early days of California statehood. It also has had a longer continuous association with the Franciscans than any other mission, and a longer continuous history of choral music than any other mission. The headquarters of the mission system in the 1830s and 40s, it is where many of the archives of the California missions are held. Note the adjacent pottery kiln and tanning vat ruins.Adults $5.
  • Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta Del Sol (follow signs from nearby Santa Barbara Mission),  +1 805 682-4711. Daily 10AM-5PM. This large, well-presented museum is - literally - a hidden treasure. Highlights in the eleven exhibit halls include regional natural history, a life-size Blue Whale skeleton, and a rare skeleton of a pony-sized "pygmy mammoth." $10 for adults; free on the last Sunday of every month except September.
  • Santa Barbara Museum of Art1130 State St+1 805 963-4364. Tu-Su 11AM-5PM. A remarkably well-provisioned museum considering the size of the town, Santa Barbara's main art museum features a strong collection of Roman antiquities, as well as an impressive lineup of classical European and modern art. Frequently rotated exhibitions are among the strongest in California. Adults: $9; suggested donation on Sunday.
  • Santa Barbara Historical Museum136 East De la Guerra St. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Free.
  • Presidio of Santa Barbara123 East Canon Perdido St (a block off State St, corner of East Canon Perdido and Santa Barbara Sts). Every day except major holidays, 10:30AM–4:30PM. A military fortress founded in 1782, only parts of which remain. Some parts are gradually being rebuilt. Adults $5, seniors (62+) $4, children 16 & under free.
  • Stearns Wharf (End of State Street along the Waterfront). This picturesque 1872 wharf - the longest deep-water pier between Los Angeles and San Francisco - has lots of history. It is named after its builder, local lumberman John P. Stearns. Badly damaged several times by fire, it has been repeatedly rebuilt and today features more than a dozen shops and restaurants, and one of the best views in California from the end of its pier. You may see brown pelicans at the end of the wharf. It was once owned by Hollywood legend James Cagney. Free.
  • Karpeles Museum21 West Anapamu St (half a block from State St), +1 805 962-5322. W-Su, noon-4PM. The Karpeles Library is the world's largest private holding of important original manuscripts & documents. Among the items on permanent display in the museum is an original Stone copy of the Declaration of Independence, a replica of the globe used by Columbus (sans the Western Hemisphere), handwritten scores by a dozen leading composers, and the computer guidance system used on the first Apollo lander flight to the moon. Free.
  • Santa Barbara Zoo500 Ninos Dr,  +1 805 963-5695. Every day, 10AM-5PM, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and some private events. Small but well-represented with over 600 animals, the zoo has provided entertainment for all ages since 1963 and is the largest zoo between Los Angeles and San Francisco (unless you count the Monterey Aquarium). Adults 13-59: $14. Children 2-13 and Seniors 60+: $10. Children under 2: Free.
  • Santa Barbara Botanic Garden1212 Mission Canyon Rd (Follow signs from Old Mission),  +1 805 682-4726. 9AM-5PM Nov-Feb, 9AM-6PM Mar-Oct. Located on 65 acres in the foothills just above the city, the Garden features exquisite exhibits of California native plants displayed in beautiful landscaped settings. Walk along a meadow, through a canyon and redwood forest, across a historic dam, and along ridge tops that offer sweeping views of the Channel Islands. Established in 1926 as an educational and scientific institution, it is the oldest botanic garden in California dedicated to the study, conservation, and display of native flora. $8 adults, $6 seniors/teens/military with id, $4 children 2-12, under 2 free.
  • Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum653 Paseo Nuevo,  +1 805-966-5373. Tu-Sa 11AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. CAF is a non-profit, non-collecting institution dedicated to exhibiting the highest quality of contemporary art while recognizing "the artists of tomorrow," and was founded in 1976 by artists and art supporters seeking a venue dedicated solely to contemporary art. What began as a grassroots, artist-run organization with nominal funding now serves as the leading contemporary arts presenter in Central California. CAF offers its innovative education and exhibition programming to the region primarily free of charge. Foundations and individuals keep CAF active with opportunities for artists, children, and adults to experience all the visual and performing arts have to offer. Free.
  • Reagan Ranch Center Exhibit Gallery217 State Street, downtown (next to Amtrak Station),  +1 805-957-1980. Tu, Th 11AM-4:30PM with extended summer hours. Features original Reagan Ranch artifacts matched with state-of-the-art, interactive, multimedia exhibits that highlight the history of Ronald Reagan's quarter-century at Rancho del Cielo and the accomplishments of his presidency. Over six hours of dynamic multimedia exhibits provide access to exclusive speeches, interviews, radio addresses, and original video presentations. The centerpiece is a 28-foot-long interactive "timeline" that gives users the ability to explore the "Western White House" during the 1980s. Free.
  • Santa Barbara Surfing Museum16 1/2 Helena Ave+1 805-962-9048, e-mail: . Sunday: 12 Noon - 5PM. The surf history is on display since 1992 and contains historic boards from the collection of James O'Mahoney. It also displays old surf films. Free.

Museums & Galleries

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA), located on State Street, features nationally recognized collections and special exhibitions of international importance. Highlights of the Museum's remarkable permanent collection include antiquities; 19th-century French, British, and American art; 20th-century and contemporary European, North American, and Latin American art; Asian art; photography; and works on paper. It is also recognized for its innovative education program that serves local and surrounding communities through extensive on-site programming and curriculum resources. Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (MCASB), located on the top floor of Paseo Nuevo shopping mall, is a non-profit, non-collecting museum dedicated to the exhibition, education, and cultivation of the arts of our time. The premier venue for contemporary art between Los Angeles and San Francisco, MCASB offers free admission to its exhibitions and public programming. Other art venues include the University Art Museum on the University of California at Santa Barbara Campus, various private galleries, and a wide variety of art and photography shows. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is located immediately behind the Santa Barbara Mission in a complex of Mission-style buildings set in a park-like campus. The Museum offers indoor and outdoor exhibits and a state-of-the-art planetarium. The Santa Barbara Historical Museum is located on De La Guerra Street and offers free admission. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is located at 113 Harbor Way (the former Naval Reserve Center Santa Barbara) on the waterfront. The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum(free admission) houses a collection of historical documents and manuscripts. Two open air museums here are Lotusland and Casa del Herrero, exemplifying the American Country Place era in Santa Barbara. Casa Dolores, center for the popular arts of Mexico, is devoted to the collection, preservation, study, and exhibition of an extensive variety of objects of the popular arts of Mexico.

Things to do

Although Santa Barbara is an atypical coastal town, it offers the typical Southern California variety of outdoor activities, from surfing to whale-watching.

  • Beaches. Along the waterfront. Santa Barbara's most popular beach, East Beach, is a pristine stretch of blindingly white sand framed by postcard quality palm trees, surrounding hills and nearby harbor. For less crowded beachcombing, try nearby Leadbetter Beach, or further up the road, isolated Arroyo Burro (known to locals as Hendry's Beach,) where dog lovers bring their pets to frolic in a no-leashes-needed surfside dog park. Hendry's Beach is also home to a nudist beach, where one can often see a frolicking nude man pass by. Even more isolated is Butterfly Beach, tucked away in a cove beneath the high-toned Biltmore Hotel in Montecito.
  • Golf. Santa Barbara has numerous private and public golf courses located in and around the city. Hidden Oaks, Twin Lakes, and Ocean Meadows are nine-hole courses that provide budget prices for a round of golf. For those wishing to play 18 holes without spending a lot, the Santa Barbara Golf Club, located at 3500 McCaw, provides reasonably priced rounds. For those wishing to spend more, Sandpiper Golf Course, located north of Goleta on Hollister, or Rancho San Marcos, located about 15 miles up the 154, provide a world class golf experience.
  • Hiking. From the Mesa to the Santa Ynez Mountains, the unique geography of Santa Barbara provides amazing opportunities to see panoramic views and abundant wildlife. Hiking guides and maps are easily obtained at any local bookstore, well-equipped newsstand, or selected stores in tourist-heavy locations such as downtown. Examples include the Douglas Family Preserve, a great off-leash open space that often serves as the backdrop for numerous weddings, and East Camino Cielo Road off of Highway 154, which has several spots one can park and find a little trail to hike on, or even just sit and enjoy the view.
  • Eagle Paragliding,  +1 805 968-0980. Santa Barbara offers year-round flying, and some of the best flying in the United States. You can fly solo on your first day at Elings Park. Tandem Flights are also available from the Mountains, the Beach, or the Elings Park Training Hill.
  • Surfing. There are numerous beaches in the area fit for surfing and several companies that rent surfboards. Although the surf tends to be much smaller in the summer, it is perfect for beginners. There are also several nice long board breaks that are suitable year round.
  • Wine Tasting in the Funk Zone. Santa Barbara has a number of wineries all within blocks of downtown and mostly within the area known as the Funk Zone for its earlier, funkier roots as the industrial part of town. A number of smaller wineries have set up shop, many in converted industrial buildings, in the Funk Zone, which is located in the blocks just east of State Street and between the waterfront and the Highway 101 overpass. This up-and-coming part of the city now features a large number of wineries, including Santa Barbara's Urban Wine Trail, restaurants, craft breweries and craft distillers, making it a popular destination for foodies and those wishing to escape the shopping scene on State Street. Most wineries have tasting rooms and are open to the public.
  • Wine Tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley. For those who want to escape the city limits and get out in to wine country, the Santa Ynez Valley is just a short drive north of Santa Barbara, accessible either via U.S. Highway 101, or by State Highway 154. Here in north Santa Barbara County are hundreds of wineries and vineyards, and the fall harvest period is an especially scenic time to make the trip. Most of the wineries are part of the Santa Barbara County Vintner's Association. Pinot noir, and to a lesser extent, chardonnay, are the signature varietals of Santa Barbara wine country. Just pop up to Solvang, Santa Ynez, Los Olivos or Buellton and enjoy. The region takes responsible consumption very seriously, and since the February 2008 launch of the CHP Designated Driver Program, DUI checkpoints have been frequent. Consider hiring a limo or signing on for a wine tour.
  • Wine Tours. Daily wine tasting excursions depart from most area hotels, and you can pick from several different approaches. The Grapeline Wine Country Shuttle, (888) 8-WINERY, offers a flexible day aboard deluxe shuttles. Stagecoach Wine Tours offers wine tasting tours in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County.Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours offer a wine tour in open air jeeps. Sustainable Vine, +1 805 698-3911, focuses on the producers employing sustainable practices.
    • Sanguis8 Ashley Ave,  +1 805-845-0920. by appt. Santa Barbara Winery
  • An easy walking tour. Find some free parking on the side streets from Cabrillo Boulevard after passing State Street (i.e. on Bath Street and Yanonali St). Then walk on the sidewalk or the beach to State Street. At the intersection of Cabrillo Boulevard and State Street you will find the pier which will give you great views of the city. After walking on the pier, take State Street up past the train station. Shops and restaurants line up State Street up and down providing a great visitor experience. Take a right on West Carillo St and go one block and then take a left on Anacapa St. This should get you to the Santa Barbara Courthouse (details above under See) opposite the public library Main Branch, where you can enjoy the pleasant views from its tower. Next, walk up the street to Anapamu St and take a left. This will put you back on State Street. If you're not tired yet you can keep walking up State Street to Mission St and take a right. If you follow the street to Laguna St and take a left and after three blocks take a right on Los Olivos. This will get you to the Santa Barbara Mission. After visiting the mission and the delightful rose garden in front of the Mission, you can walk back to Cabrillo Boulevard or just take the shuttle back to the waterfront.
  • Red Tile Walking Tour. The Santa Barbara Visitors Center gives out a nice free guide to Santa Barbara that includes a suggested self-guided walk that's about 1.2 miles long in total. It features historic red-tiled adobe buildings in Downtown Santa Barbara but also helps visitors to get a sense of the lay of the land and see some of the stores and restaurants on State St. and a few paseos. Not to be viewed as a substitute for the easy walking tour listed above, as that is a longer walk and encompasses parts of the city not included in this one.
  • Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Held annually towards the end of January/beginning of February - an eleven day celebration at several historical theaters, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival welcomes some of the biggest names in Hollywood with awards ceremonies and world premier screenings. SBIFF has gradually built a reputation for its growing program that features some of the industry's top distributors in attendance. Individual tickets are available for the tribute events.
  • Channel Islands Kayaking (Channel Islands National Park). Close to the California mainland, yet worlds apart, Channel Islands National Park encompasses five remarkable islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara) and their ocean environment, preserving and protecting a wealth of natural and cultural resources. Isolation over thousands of years has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere else on Earth and helped preserve a place where visitors can experience coastal southern California as it once was.
  • Fiesta 5 Theatre916 State St, e-mail: . The cinema has 5 screens for good movies in downtown Santa Barbara with decent seats.
  • Art WalkCabrillo Boulevard at Stearns Wharf. Sundays, 10AM-dusk. Every Sunday, local artists display their work along Cabrillo Boulevard near the beach. The "art walk" stretches for several blocks. You can stroll along and browse the paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other pieces, and buy something if it strikes your fancy.
  • Go for a walk in the park. Santa Barbara has many beautiful city parks, each with its own unique character. Chase Palm Park stretches long and narrow beside the beach, and includes a skate park and a vintage carousel. Shoreline Park offers a blufftop walk with stunning views overlooking the ocean. Alameda Park has a community-designed kids' playground, and just across the street is Alice Keck Park Park (yes, park park), a mini botanic garden featuring various species of trees and a pond with ducks and turtles. Or take a picnic lunch to any of the dozens of other neighborhood parks off the beaten path.
  • Metro 4 theatre618 State St, toll-free: +1-877-789-6684, e-mail:. The cozy theatre has big screens. It sells discounted tickets on Tuesdays. It screens during the Santa Barbara Film Festival.

Festivals and events

Beach Festivals in Santa Barbara

Stereotypically looked at as a beach resort or a wine-growing destination, Santa Barbara also offers cultural entertainment for visitors, such as the Santa Barbara festivals listed below.

West Beach Music & Arts Festival, West Beach, Santa Barbara

Celebrated from September 24 to September 26, this festival has managed to emerge as one of California’s most popular cultural festival. The three-day festival has always managed to engage heavy crowd participation, particularly students from the surrounding cities. However, it is equally suited for family vacationers. The main theme is celebration of music in its various formats. Visitors can be assured about finding DJs, local bands, and small parades along the beach. The two main locations for this festival include the Stearn’s Wharf and the western half of the local harbor. In the last few years, the West Beach Festival has popularized the use of Oasis—a stage formed of palm trees. There are numerous stalls selling all kinds of snacks and cheap wine from the local vineyards.

Sandcastle Festival, East Beach, Santa Barbara

Sandcastle is the main festival for the East Beach dwellers in Santa Barbara. This annual festival is recommended for families. The atmosphere is ideal for the family because the entire beach is converted into a large picnic spot. The most popular event is the sand-carving event. Here, participants make castles upon the sandy shores. This festival is celebrated in the first week of September, but visitors should check for the exact dates. Apart from the sandcastle competitions, there is live music and various workshops like candle-making sessions.



In addition to Santa Barbara wine tasting, the region is also full of bars. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your preference), many of them cater to crowds of students from the nearby university. Thursday nights are the official college night of downtown bars at which time the drinks are particularly cheap. Really any bar on lower State Street is Fun on Thursday nights to relive those college days.

  • American Ale14 East Cota St+1 805 845-6226. The kind of old school hipster bar has a big selection of beers ( Avery Ellies Brown Ale, IPA, ..) and mixes old fashioned dirty cocktails. Locals recommend the burgers too.
  • Dargan's Irish Pub & Restaurant, 18 E Ortega St+1 805 568-0702, e-mail: . 11:30AM-. Sportsbar with Irish music. Good lamb stew.
  • Elsie's117 West De La Guerra St+1 805 963-4503. Neighborhood beer and wine joint with good music. Meet the locals out back in the outdoor smoking area or over rounds of pool inside. It is a former bike shop turned into a comfy bar. It can get very crowded.
  • Intermezzo Bar + Cafe819 Anacapa St+1 805 966-9463. M-F 4PM-, Sa 12PM-. The place has a wide selection of wines per glass. It's the bar of the upscale wine cask restaurant. It serves simple food plates too.
  • The James Joyce513 State St,  +1 805 962-2688. 10AM-2AM daily. Yes, it's an Irish pub, or "A Traditional Irish Bar." Free peanuts, karaoke, a fireplace and dixieland jazz bands on the weekend. Guinness flows freely.
  • Joe's CafeState Street 536+1 805 966-4638. 7:30AM-11PM. This upbeat bar and steakhouse severs the stiffest drinks on State St. Have a couple at the beginning of the night.
  • Santa Barbara Brewing Co., 501 State St+1 805 730-1040. M–Th 11:30AM–11PM, F–Su 11:30AM–12AM. Microbrewery, TVs. Decent food.
  • SOhO Restaurant and Music Club1221 State St,  +1 805 962-7776.Jazz/live music club above Victoria Court.
  • Wildcat Lounge15 W Ortega St,  +1 805 962-7970. Danceclub.

Things to know


The city of Santa Barbara is part of what's known as the South Coast, so named because the coastline between Point Conception and the city of Ventura faces more south than west. The road that serves as the city's nexus is State Street, which runs roughly north–south in and near downtown and east-west in the uptown area. It continues west as Hollister Avenue through Goleta. The area immediately to the east of lower State Street, between the waterfront and Highway 101, is known as the Funk Zone and features a more off-the-beaten-path experience that is still immediately adjacent to the downtown area. The Latino part of town is on the east side of the city and has its own main street, Milpas Street, which is almost a mile away from, but parallel to, State Street in and near downtown. Upper State Street connects to Highway 154, a state highway that connects Santa Barbara with Los Olivos and wine country.

Santa Barbara's downtown neighborhoods are generally working, middle- and upper-middle-class areas, while Montecito to the east of the city and Hope Ranch to the west are the city's wealthy enclaves, known as part-time hideouts for Hollywood celebrities and rich retirees.

Safety in Santa Barbara

Stay Safe

Very High / 9.7

Safety (Walking alone - day)

High / 7.9

Safety (Walking alone - night)

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